“If everybody does it, nobody looks stupid.”

True. And not everybody is doing it.

That’s the reality of trying to do something new, something meaningful—something that hasn’t been tried before. When you’re the only one, you look and feel stupid.

But that’s certainly no reason not to do it.

I’ve never watched much of House on Fox, but I came across this line belonging to the lead character, Gregory House, the other day:

“If you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you.”

The sentiment pairs well with Seth Godin’s recently released quasi audiobook, Leap First. It’s not a book, really—more of a collection of live essays he recorded this past year at a seminar in his office, but still well worth the listen.

Seth describes any work that matters, that makes a difference, that’s trying to do something new as art. I couldn’t agree more with him on this. He goes on to describe being an artist as a “serial form of incompetence.”

I think he’s right about that, too.

If you’re going to do something new, something that matters, you aren’t afforded the luxury of being an expert. If no one has done it before—or even just if you haven’t done it before—you’re going to be clumsy and inexperienced at the start and you will probably find yourself looking stupid along the way.

It’s unavoidable.

Best to just accept that as the admission price of entering the unexplored, of being one of the first. 

Steve Jobs encouraged us to be one of “the crazy ones.”

I'll second that and add to it:

Be one of the stupid ones.


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© Andy Zimney and Leading Off the Cuff, 2015.



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Andy Zimney is a Senior Advisor and Team Performance Coach at Employee Strategies, Inc., a boutique firm that partners with leaders to develop highly effective cultures that drive outstanding results. Contact ESInc to learn more about how they can assess your current culture and design customized and effective development experiences for your team. Or reach out to Andy directly.